Parts of the Grain to use in Mash

edited November 2017 in General

From experience when people are making their mashes for moonshine, bourbon, etc, do you tend to use the whole grain or would you tend to use a meal or flour from grinding the grain.

In my moonshine I use flaked corn, this is primarily the easiest form to get here in the UK. However I know some people use corn meal.

Is corn meal better to use the flaked corn; either for flavour or ease of use?

When making bourbon, I know people who use meal or flour for the rye, corn and malted barley they use in their mash.

Is this a better way of doing it rather than using the whole the grain including husk?

Would this require less work, as the husk would not need to be removed?



  • edited November 2017

    Starch is starch, so the closer you get to a refined white flour, the further you'll go from the characteristic flavors and aromas of the grain. Taking it to the absolute extreme, converting white corn starch to glucose using enzymes, and you'll make something much closer to rum than whiskey.

    The reason moonshine recipes that include non-gelatinized corn taste like whiskey is due to the fact that the corn germ/bran influence the congeners produced during fermentation. For example, UJSSM being corn-flavored rum, and not whiskey, even though it pains me every time I hear someone call it whiskey, it kind of does taste like whiskey, and that's because of some of that germ. (Lacto too, but that's another thread.)

    Also keep in mind that you can't compare these pound for pound. Unfermentable Pericarp/husk accounts for 10% of the weight in something like barley, and closer to 1% for corn, and for most other grain, at least 10% of the weight is non-fermentable bran and germ. So, if you are trying to faithfully reproduce a specific mash bill, you'll need to do some math if you are working with dehusked or degermed (or both) grain products, since most mash bills assume whole grain weights. Degermed barley flour would probably represent the most extreme difference. A whole grain rye flour probably the least.

    Corn meal is typically degermed to increase shelf life, and because of that it will have ~10% more fermentables on a pound by pound basis than flaked or ground whole corn. Process, compared to flaked maize, it requires a full on cereal mash to gelatinize all the starches, although if it's fine ground so it converts pretty quickly.

    Flaked would be closer to whole corn, as it typically does contain germ as well, and it's partially/mostly gelatinized by the flaking process already. So, not only does it have all the parts of the corn seed you would want, half the work is already done. I mentioned degerming and shelf life above, another reason flaked is more expensive is that it's shelf-life is more finite than corn meal. Corn meal can probably sit 3 or 4 years, flaked won't make it a year.

  • Thanks @grim a lot of good information there, which is useful to know. With what you have said, presumably I could use the malted barley without the husk, which i include at the moment, not only would my calculation be correct, or does this not really matter, but i should add 10% for the husk allowance?

    If making a bourbon with rye, corn and malted barley, would you say that using corn meal would be ok, or for it to be a better spirit using flaked corn would be more ideal?


  • Dehusked barley malt is kind of rare, it’s labor intensive, and generally only done with dark roast malts to reduce bitterness in beer made from them. For example Carafa Special from Weyermann.

    I’ve seen polished barley for sale at the health food store, but it was horrendously expensive.

  • Carafa is sorghum ???

  • edited November 2017

    @zizther said: If making a bourbon with rye, corn and malted barley, would you say that using corn meal would be ok, or for it to be a better spirit using flaked corn would be more ideal?

    Yeah it should be fine, I wouldn't worry so much about that. Is flaked better? I don't know about better or worse, but it would be closer to a whole corn mash. Perhaps you could say more authentic? I always hesitate to say better/worse, because there could be preference involved.

  • Thanks for the helpful advice. I am keen to try using corn meal, as it is something I haven't done before.

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